Well, things went ok last night for the Caps (certainly a large improvement on their last game with the Rangers). They played hard, got an early lead, and held it for quite a long while. Unfortunately, quite a long while was only good enough to get them into a shoot-out, where the coin-flip did not favor them. The biggest problem was, again, a lack of sustained offensive pressure; perhaps as a result of adapting to the new system.
It was actually kind of a weird game, though. In the first, the Caps were doing ok, but seemed to keep running into each other. They don't do that very often, but they did it three or four times (all in the first period) last night. I blame it on the constant line-juggling that has some players moving back and forth between pivot and lever arm.
It was also odd that there were almost no shots through half of that first period (I believe it was still one shot a side at that point). Not sure if that's good or bad, but it certainly makes Corsi easy to calculate.
Hendricks finally put the Caps on the board early in the second, thanks to a beauty of a helper from MarJo (and a little help from Hannan, getting his first point with the Caps).
After that, it was just back and forth for over thirty minutes until the Rangers finally tallied on a strange strike from Gaborik who (probably inadvertantly) hit the puck in from shoulder-level with his hand.
From there, things continued to see-saw until the end of overtime. More broadly, MarJo had a good game (he had the pretty assist, and even won over half of his face-offs). OV looked really good, and made a lot of chances without converting any of them. Alzner had a really nice game, with several very nice defensive plays to prevent or stifle scoring chances. DJ was playing again, and was ok. And apparently Bruce was impressed, because he not only upped his ice time to six minutes, but even got almost half a minute of power play time (though that might have been caused by general disgust at how the first unit was playing).
Hendricks had another good game, not only with the regulation goal (which was really a good play only because of the back-door cut; the goal itself was damned near automatic, as he had half the goal to shoot at from about two feet away. Getting into position for it, though, was quite nice), but also a nice score in the shoot-out.
Holtby had another fantastic game, with twenty-eight saves to go with the goal he allowed. He did not look nearly as good in the shoot-out, allowing the first two in on basically the same move (to opposite sides). But the shoot-out is basically a coin-flip, so nothing to see there, I say. And the game does put Holtby up to a .908 save percentage on the season, so... Not bad! I figure, at this rate, he'll get the next game and let Varly and Neuvy rest through the All-Star break. And if it's another game like last night, he'll be up around .915 save percentage; very close to league-average (and a hair above Neuvy). Let's hope so.
Special teams wasn't, really. Neither team converted either of their chances. I'm amazed the Caps only got the two chances, though. There were four or five trips and interferences that should have been called, I thought. (And how do you get holding AND a dive on the same play. I just don't see how that's possible.)
On an unrelated note, Versus wanted to talk about Kulemin going after Gleason and getting his clock cleaned in the first intermission. I certainly don't see how that could be a cheap shot, given that Kulemin started it. The penalties issued baffle me, really; if anything, Kulemin should have gotten the worst of the penalties (with instigation). The result might have been
unfortunate, but justified. Either way, though, I don't think Kulemin will be looking to start something again any time soon.
Back to the Caps, they're going to visit the Thrashers tomorrow to try to keep momentum going into the All-Star break. Given that the Caps haven't done too well against Atlanta thus far, this season, let's hope they can do it.